Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts ★★★½

A wild Italian variant of "Day of the Animals (1977)" on PCP by one of the directors (Franco Prosperi) of "Mondo Cane (1962)", "Africa Addio (1966)" and "Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971)".

Coming from such a dubious and controversial "shockumentary" filmmaker, there's social criticism involved, where they managed to be in both the role of shedding light onto important ecologicial or humanitarian issues while also problematically exploiting the topics themselves at the same time for the sake of filming authentic images.

In the case of "Wild Beasts" these double standards sadly come in the form of setting real rats on fire and to let loose a bunch of wild tigers and hyenas on cattle in a slaughterhouse. Prosperi claimed in the interviews that absolutely no animals were harmed during the making of the film, yet it's absolutely impossible to get such convincing special FX in 1983. You just know it's real when you see it. So a big trigger warning, there's some real animal cruelty among the fake human deaths.

Someone poisoned the water in a Zoo in Frankfurt with PCP. Wild animals go crazy and break out, wreaking havoc in the city with incredibly gory attacks and wild setpieces. A young couple is shred to pieces by rats, an elephant squashes a girl's head and a real cheetah chases after speeding cars. It's quite impressive because they really filmed wild animals set loose in the city of Rome and in Johannesburg South Africa. There's even a freakin' polar bear chasing little kids in a school building. The things that could have gone wrong, even with all the circus animal wranglers on set, is mindbogglingly insane! Main actor Antonio Di Leo was almost decapitated by the polar bear in the scene where the bear swings one of its paws at him, narrowly missing his head.

Definitely the craziest and most brutal nature-runs-amok film I've ever seen. The gory practical effects looked convincing, even more so when tigers disembowel a fake corpse (probably stuffed with animal guts).
It's got schlocky badly dubbed moments, especially the scenes involving kids but also effective moments where a stranded train cart is invaded by a hungry tiger, preying on the people inside.

It's well-made on a low budget and because of its authenticity it looked more expensive than it really was. However, it's for the best that films like these go for CGI these days to make sure that REALLY no animals got harmed.

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